This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Planning for the Maker Faire

As in plans to do some 'making'. As in come March the 14th/15th, O'ReillyUK will be hosting the first Maker Faire in these islands *. The Backstage and BBC R&D (yes, it's an aging site, new one due soon!) teams have decided this would be a really fantastically interesting thing to get involved in, so we are putting together a team at the moment to go along and "Make Stuff".

We're not absolutely sure what we'll make just yet. Inspiration is coming from the excellent videos from previous Faires, our own experience with Mashed and other big events, and the fact that this is in National Science and Engineering Week, in the bicentennial of Darwin's birth, at the Life centre .

We want to keep it "open", so pretty much anyone can have a go at doing at least part of what we do. We think environmental science and exploration is a good element (the Darwin/ Life thing). We'd like to use loads of great BBC content, and we also need to be in the spirit of Make, and have lots of noisy, messy, smelly breaking and mending and making and hammering and gluing etc. and we'll also be filming it too. As plans develop I'll post them here, and you may even see tweets from me as the cunning scheme comes together, but for now, watch this space!

Oh, and do let me know if you're going too- should be a hoot!

* There is actually a simultaneous event a lot like a Maker Faire in Glasgow called McMADSAT (great name) but O'Reilly can really only do one at once. being the lazy sods we are, our team are doing the one nearest, but we're really keen to hear how they do in Glasgow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Having a facinating time at Bettr- this unconference is a little small, and perhaps not as fluid as some, but the level of attendee engagement is excellent and the discussion is very wide ranging and eclectic. For instance, just at the moment the guy from is leading a discuson on the best way to socialise innovation in teaching, unconferences and the ilk. headconference has been explored, but I think we're looking at lower level, grass roots stuff.

There's a brilliant twitter backchannel under the #bettr tag.

Ice Tilt /Shift

Ice Tilt, originally uploaded by meeware1.

I love tilt shift photos- those cheeky bits of photoshoping that make real life look like a really badly slapped together train set- but I'm hopeless in Gimp (the OS photoshop equivalent). There are gazzilions of tiltshift tutorials online, and all of them fox me utterly (same goes for HDR natch). However- this site: is totally brilliant and makes cool tilt shifts in a jiffy! I really need to get some good material for this, so spot me in the next few weeks atop every multistorey car park I can find!

Northward ho! or, not.

Today we finally heard how the great big BBC north project was going to be taken up by R&D, and I think the approach we are taking is a very sensible one, but also a little scary. Basically, we are committing to set up a world class, top drawer kick butt R&D lab in Salford by 2011, but no one is going to be forced to go. The opportunity looks amazing, and for those with the flexibility to make the move, it'll be great. For the rest of us, there's still a lot of uncertainty.

Sadly there's still no clear idea of where the South East R&D lab will live- W12 is a possibility, though space is dreadfully tight there, and expensive, and the facilities management is deeply underwhelming. A Surrey base looks unlikely, as does a Cambridge one I think, but both options are being seriously considered. All in all, it was a day of progress, and a call to arms for those on the staff with the ability and the gumption to make a go of a future in the North. For me...? I just don't know.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


So, I promised to post more, so here we go. This is a quick outline of the things I really hope to do at work this year:
  1. Do NAB- the big Las Vegas broadcast technology conference and trade show. The Avatar project will have a stand there showing off our prototype large scale A/V storage system, and current plan are to have one paper in conference and week of demos. Lots to do to get ready for that- I need to learn how to drive Final Cut Pro on macbooks first- and we are planning on shooting a film to take out with us too!
  2. Turn the ideas about a BBC micro for the 21st century into a real live project- no idea how, or where or what, but there enough great ideas swirling around this idea that it just has to fly.
  3. Get some of Steve Bowbrick's ideas about openess in the corporation into action- some of these are revolutionary in ways I can't even post about (hows that for irony!) but their all capable of properly shaking this place up!
  4. Fly more rockets.
  5. Visit more great out of London offices- Glasgow was a highlight of last year- I need to return to Manchester and Birmingham, and I really ought to get out to Belfast and Bristol!
OK, that'll do for a first stab, especially considering how fragile I feel after last night.